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6/20/13 | 5 comments | 8657 views
Ireton graduate publishes Marian thriller
St. Louis parishioner Stephen Ryan will release his first novel this summer
Stephen Ryan, a graduate of Bishop Ireton High School and a parishioner of St. Louis Church, both in Alexandria, will release his first novel next month, entitled The Madonna Files.
While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in economics at George Washington University in Washington, Ryan thought writing might be his true calling. He worked hard to write a short story for an English class and was shocked when his teacher read it aloud.
“I met with her afterward and she said, ‘Steve, your voice is unique and appealing, you ought to think about doing more of this.’ As an econ major, I was focused on making money, not writing. Looking back, I should have asked her more about why she liked it, but I never believed it would lead to anything.”
Ryan discovered that the Virgin Mary not only led him back to the church, but also inspired him to write about his newly strengthened faith. “I looked into Fatima and the miracle of the sun, and became very interested in the mysterious world of Marian apparitions. It started as an interest, and then it began moving into my heart and … I couldn’t get past it.”
He was so enthralled with these supernatural Marian events that he created the online news magazine, ministryvalues.com, with a friend in 2009. “I started out like every other blogger, and when more people started coming to the site, I began to write more. As I began entering deeper discussions about Catholic issues on the website, the idea of a book came into focus.”
Ryan weaves together a mesmerizing narrative as he welcomes his readers into a world filled with intrigue and suspense in The Madonna Files. The novel describes the adventure that ensues after six children receive apocalyptic warnings from the Blessed Mother and the “Third Secret of Fatima” is lost from the pope’s personal belongings. As the Marian predictions start to become catastrophic realities around the world, a Vatican “Miracle Detective” races around the clock to unlock the truth behind the long-kept mysteries of the church and save the world from imminent doom.
In discussing his book, Ryan said, “My novel is my conversion story. Through a religious thriller I am trying to show people how I found my faith without hitting people over the head with it. I combine my interests in my book, which is about sailing, apparitions, Russia, Fatima and the simple loving message of Medjugorje.”
After submitting his manuscript to more than 30 different publishing houses, Ryan finally received a contract from Whiskey Creek Press. “Every novel of fiction is tough to get published, and it’s a miracle to be where I am today,” he said.
Although Ryan’s book may not hit the shelves for another month, he was accepted as a member of the International Thriller Writers society. Daniel Kilmek, a national correspondent for the online news agency Medjugorje Today — which reports on Medjugorje, located in Bosnia-Herzegovina — gave the novel high praise. Kilmek described the book as a “fascinating, fast-paced thriller … filled with rich dialogue, complex and colorful characters, a storyline that tackles the most meaningful, religious and political subjects in the world. Move over Dan Brown, I was blown away.”
Ryan hopes his novel will help Catholics reconnect with Christ through the Blessed Mother. “If a person is ever lost in his spirituality or questioning his faith, she will lead you in the right direction. Our Lady’s presence is real and powerful, and discovering her power in the reality of her appearances can strengthen and deepen your faith in great ways.”